Arsenal stay top of the English Premier League with late goals
Niklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott score in 2-0 win over Cardiff
Chasing Manchester City and Chelsea both win
Manchester United beaten 2-1 in late game by Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal left it late to stay top of the English Premier League title race as Niklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott scored in the last two minutes at the Emirates Wednesday to beat Cardiff City 2-0.
The match looked headed for a draw until Danish international Bendtner converted from close range to break the deadlock and Walcott rounded off the job in injury time.
With Manchester City and Chelsea both winning, the three points was vital for the Gunners, who were top heading into the New Year and maintained a one-point advantage over City.
They are also an unexpected 11 points clear of reigning champions Manchester United whose recent revival came to a shuddering halt with a 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the late kickoff.
Tottenham, who recently replaced Andre Villas-Boas with Tim Sherwood, moved up to challenging sixth place with a third win in four games for the new manager.
They took the lead just before half time through recalled Emmanuel Adebayor after a smart counter attack and added a second through Christian Eriksen in the 66th minute.
Danny Welbeck pulled one back within a minute and Tottenham had to ride their luck in the last few minutes, but it added up to a fourth defeat at Old Trafford for United under David Moyes.
Earlier, Cardiff, without a manager since the sacking of Malky Mackay, restricted leaders Arsenal to few opportunities despite their domination.
Jack Wilshere was denied a penalty in the first half and then struck the base of the post after the break until Bendtner reacted quickly to score after Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall saved superbly from Bacary Sagna’s header.
Former Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a guest of Cardiff owner Vincent Tan at the match, increasing speculation he will take over from Mackay.
Second-placed City picked up their seventh straight win in all competitions in the early kick off, beating Swansea City 3-2 at the Liberty Stadium.
City’s Brazilian defender Fernandinho opened their account after just 14 minutes following a Samir Nasri corner, which was not cleared by the home defense.
Swansea leveled in first half injury time when Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony headed home, but the expensively assembled visitors stopped up the pace after the break and his international teammate Yaya Toure restored their lead with a deflected effort near the hour mark.
City’s Aleksandar Kolarov crashed home what proved to be the clinching third eight minutes later before the impressive Bony grabbed a late consolation in injury time from long range.
“It was a very good result because Swansea are a strong team here at home and also away,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini told Sky Sports. “I think the way we won today is very important for us.”
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea also kept up the pressure with a 3-0 win at Southampton, started by a header from Fernando Torres, who was a threat throughout, on the hour mark.
Second half substitute Oscar set up Willian for a fine second just 11 minutes later and rounded off a superb performance with the third goal. It left Chelsea two points adrift in third spot.
Fourth-placed Liverpool, still smarting from successive narrow losses to Manchester City and Chelsea, stayed in touch, four points adrift, by accounting for Hull City, winning 2-0 at home.
Daniel Agger put them ahead with a 36th minute header with Luis Suarez netting his league leading 20th of the campaign with a fine free kick after the break.
At the other end of the table, Fulham were indebted to Dimitar Berbatov for their winner in the 2-1 home victory over fellow strugglers West Ham.
Nicolas Anelka, under investigation by the English FA for his controversial goal celebration in the draw at West Ham, played 88 minutes for West Bromwich Albion in their vital 1-0 home win over Newcastle.
Sunderland remained rooted to the bottom as Gabriel Agbonlahor’s 15th-minute goal gave Aston Villa a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light, while third-bottom Crystal Palace were held to a 1-1 draw by Norwich City.